HYDERABAD: In a major relief to the infrastructure firm Lanco Infratech, the Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed orders of Andhra Pradesh High Court issued last month that prohibited the company from continuing construction activities at its major township project in Hyderabad.
The high court had on 3 April observed that the land on which Lanco is building its integrated township project belong the Wakf Board and stayed construction activities on the disputed land till further orders.
In 2005, Lanco had obtained around 100 acres of land through international competitive bidding organized by the AP government at Rs 4.27 crore an acre for its Rs 5,000 crore township project. According to Lanco Hills chief operating officer S. Pochender, the company has so far spent over Rs 2,600 crore to complete a part of the project.
Other corporates that secured the said land both through auction and allotments from the AP government include Microsoft, Infosys, Polaris, Indian School of Business and Emaar among others. In all, the state government had allotted 1,654 acres of land at Manikonda in the Hyderabad outskirts to various entities.
Two years after AP government allotted the land to several corporates and institutions, the Wakf Board claimed ownership over the land in 2007 contesting the government’s decision to hand over the prime Wakf property in favour of corporates and institutions. The Board urged the Wakf Tribunal to restrain Lanco from selling the property to third parties in the township project and obtained favourable directives. Contesting this, Lanco moved high court but in vain.
Last month, both Lanco and the AP government, separately moved the Supreme Court contesting the orders of high court and Wakf Tribunal.
“The dispute over the original ownership of land is between the AP government and Wakf Board. The government has informed the Supreme Court that the land was allotted to various entities through competitive bidding and assured that if it finally evolves that the land belongs to Wakf Board then the government will adequately compensate the Board,” Pochender told ET.
The Supreme Court, after issuing interim orders staying directives of both high court and Wakf Tribunal on Tuesday, allowed Lanco to proceed with its construction activities and posted the case for further hearing during second week of August.
Pochender said the final judgement of the Supreme Court will not have any bearing on Lanco Hills project since the Apex Court has taken into account fact that the dispute is between the state government and Wakf Board. “The court has taken note of the assurance offered by the state government that it would adequately compensate the Wakf Board if the final decision comes in favour of latter.”
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